Florida Studio Theatre Presents The World Premiere Comedy, VISIT JOE WHITEFEATHER (AND BRING THE FAMILY!)

Visit Joe Whitefeather (and bring the family!) begins playing April 5, 2023, in FST's Gompertz Theatre.

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Florida Studio Theatre will present the World Premiere of Visit Joe Whitefeather (and bring the family!) by award-winning playwright Bruce Graham.

It's the 1970s in Beaver Gap, Pennsylvania, a small town with a problem. Tourism has declined and its doesn't look like there is any hope on the horizon. When a new resident joins forces with the bewildered city council, they devise a plan to rename the town to honor a dead, Native American war hero who had never visited the town before. It's a plan so wild and insane that it just might work.

Visit Joe Whitefeather (and bring the family!) begins playing April 5, 2023, in FST's Gompertz Theatre. Tickets range from $25-39 and are now on sale at Click Here or at 941.366.9000.

Florida Studio Theatre played a key role in the development of this World Premiere comedy. In the summer of 2020, FST commissioned Graham to write Visit Joe Whitefeather (and bring the family!) as part of the theatre's Playwrights Project, an artistic initiative that employed more than 30 of the country's top writers to create new work for FST's five stages.

"As Sarasota's Contemporary Theatre, we are heavily committed to supporting the development of new plays," said Richard Hopkins, FST's Producing Artistic Director. "We do that in various ways-through commissions, like we have done with Visit Joe Whitefeather, by presenting staged readings of plays-in-progress for live audiences, and in giving works their World Premiere productions."

Visit Joe Whitefeather is inspired by real events. In the 1950s, a small town formerly known as Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, was renamed after Jim Thorpe, the first Native American to win a gold medal for the United States in the Olympics. The idea to rename the town after the late athlete came from civic leaders' efforts to strengthen the local economy. Today, Jim Thorpe is a popular tourist destination in the Pocono Mountains.

"I grew up thinking that Jim Thorpe, PA, was the home of Jim Thorpe," said playwright Bruce Graham. "It wasn't until I got to college that someone informed me that, not only was he not born there, but he'd also never visited when he was alive. The absurdity of this sat in the back of my mind for many, many years. Why would a town name itself after a dead Native American who never even drove through it?"

While audiences may find the idea of renaming a town after someone who has never stepped foot there humorous and absurd, the characters' intentions are innocent. They view it as an earnest effort to inspire economic development and bring new people to the area.

"The loveable, innocent, and charming people in this play are so deliciously misguided," said show director Kate Alexander. "And they so easily and deftly convince themselves of the worth of their proposal."

Eight actors bring this quirky comedy to life: London Carlisle (FST debut); Anat Cogan (Handle With Care, 2020); Kim Crow (Eight productions at FST, including Doublewide in 2018); Britt Michael Gordon (The Legend of Georgia McBride, 2022); Ellie Mooney (FST Associate Artist); Jared Sellick (FST debut); Kraig Swartz (Something Rotten! in 2023 and The Legend of Georgia McBride in 2022); and Malka Wallick (FST debut).

The production's creative team includes Isabel A. Curley-Clay and Moriah Curley-Clay (Scenic Design), Mari Taylor Floyd (Costume Design), Ben Rawson (Lighting Design), and Thom Korp (Sound Design).

FST's production of Visit Joe Whitefeather (and bring the family!) is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The production is also supported by Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax Revenues, and the Shubert Foundation. Thank you to our media sponsor, the Herald-Tribune Media Group.


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